Google first published the Page layout algorithm in 2012. Although several years have passed since the release of this algorithm, many users still ask questions about this algorithm. In this article on the smart strategy blog, we have carefully examined this algorithm and its changes in recent years.

google page layout algorithm
page layout algorithm infographic



What is Google’s Page Layout Algorithm?

After the emergence of the Panda algorithm in 2011, the attention to page content and internal SEO factors increased much more. But Google officially implemented this issue on January 19, 2012, with the release of the Page Layout algorithm.

The Page Layout algorithm targeted websites that had many ads at the beginning of the page. These ads caused the user to scroll a lot to reach the page’s main content.

Google announced that this algorithm has finally affected 1% of sites. But this issue caused them to change the site design to provide a better user experience. This update did not contain pop-up or sticky ads.

Page Layout algorithm updates over time

In this section, we will discuss the changes in this algorithm over time.

January 19, 2012: Implemented

Google introduced and implemented the Page Layout algorithm. This algorithm tackles sites with too many ads at the top of the page.

October 9, 2012: update

Matt Cutts, senior manager of Google’s anti-spam team, announced on his Twitter account that the algorithm was updated and affected 0.7 percent of search results for English terms. This update was an opportunity for websites that were penalized on the release date of this algorithm. On this occasion, Google removed the fined sites that had made positive changes from their penalty.

February 6, 2014: Page Layout algorithm update

Google released a new version of the algorithm on this date. Matt Cutts didn’t mention how much the update affected websites, but it seemed like Google rewrote its algorithm and updated its index.

November 1, 2016: Automation of the Page Layout algorithm

John Mueller hinted at this new feature on Twitter on this date. He informed the audience that from now on, Google would automatically remove penalized sites if they correct their errors and don’t need to wait for Google’s following updates.

Which websites are affected by the Layout algorithm?

With the four updates of the page layout algorithm, many changes are applied to the sites, but less than one percent of the world’s websites have been affected by this algorithm.

These changes in Google only affected web admins who were advertising too much at the top of the page. However, this update was helpful for admins because it caused a change in their mentality regarding the volume of advertisements published on the site.

Matt Cutts has said in further explanations that this algorithm has nothing to do with websites whose amount of advertising is average. However, it penalizes sites where top-of-the-page ads take up most of the page’s load time. In addition, areas where it is challenging to find the main content because of the mass of advertisements, may also be fined.

Managing the volume of advertisements is a difficult task for many web admins. For many sites, the only source of income is these ads. However, excessive use of advertising also has consequences, such as being fined.

Many websites took two years to get rid of this penalty.

Users do not like to face many advertisements as soon as they enter a site. They expect to come across content related to their search term, but instead, they see entirely unrelated ad items.

Nowadays, most big websites place their ads at the bottom of the page. If they put ads at the top of the page, these places will be limited to one or two. These changes benefit site owners, advertisers, and visitors.


website layout penalty
website layout penalty


Getting out of the penalty caused by this algorithm

Although only 1% of websites are penalized by the Page Layout algorithm, it is still possible for your website to be punished. Therefore, if your site is penalized by this algorithm, we must act correctly to get out of it.

First of all, note that the amount of screen coverage on the user’s screen depends on the resolution of their monitor. For example, the type of display on the top of the screen in a mobile phone is probably different compared to a laptop. Therefore, before removing any element from the top of the page, test the site using the Chrome Screen Resolution Tester extension.

Also, the Fold Tester tool has a similar function.

If penalized by this algorithm, you should correct the site’s upper part and wait for Google bots to monitor again. The good news is that there is no need to update the algorithm again to get out of Google’s penalty, and you only have to wait for Google to monitor the site again.



Adapting to algorithms like Page Layout has the risk of falling into the cycle of making constant changes in website design. Although this algorithm may seem a bit rigid, Google has admitted that it places a high value on the user experience.

Removing ads from the top of the site does not mean reducing your site’s income. If we take a closer look at the Page Layout algorithm, we will realize that this algorithm aligns with Google’s plan to prioritize the mobile index of pages.

Due to this algorithm, Google warned us to re-examine how site ads are presented, including for mobile devices. As the screen size gets smaller, the user must scroll several times to reach the page’s main content. Without ads on the top of the page, a better user experience of the website is created on desktop and mobile devices.

The truth is that Google’s Page Layout algorithm was created for users, not web admins. This algorithm caused websites to be more selective in choosing advertisers.

The lesson that web admins learned from this algorithm was to create a balance between site profitability and user satisfaction. This algorithm has been published for several years, but the lessons we learn from it continue. You can ask through the Smart Strategy PPC service page if you have any questions about this.

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